13 June 2012
Mink Farm Regulations Need More Transparency and Environmental Rigour
HALIFAX - Community concern about the uncontrolled growth of the mink farming industry has been deflected by the promise of new regulations, yet the drafting of the regulations under the Fur Industry Act has been done under a veil of secrecy and deceit within the Department of Agriculture.
In February, community members were given less than 24 hours notice before a public meeting which was the final opportunity for public comment on the regulations. “This tactic is unconscionable, especially so with a regulation that has been amended as much as this one has from the original draft” says John Werring, Aquatic Habitat Specialist with the David Suzuki Foundation. The last version of the regulations that was made public in February was substantially changed from the first version released in July 2011 and saw a significant erosion of planned pollution control and environmental oversight measures and grossly favoured the status quo.
“The community and those that live within affected watersheds are extremely concerned that these regulations will not provide the necessary oversight of the mink farming industry which has catastrophically polluted the Meteghan, Sissiboo and Tusket river systems” says Jocelyne Rankin, Water Coordinator with the Ecology Action Centre.
“There are significant concerns with the draft regulations, in particular the regulations allow for land application of manure from fur farms as an acceptable means of disposal” says Rankin. Further, there are no requirements to monitor groundwater to determine if it has been contaminated with nutrients, viruses and bacteria found in untreated manure. This presents a significant risk for neighboring properties that get their drinking water from wells.
“In the first draft of the regulations operators were obliged to prevent the mixing of surface water or runoff with waste, contain surface runoff, construct a surface water treatment system and monitor the discharge from said systems” explains Rankin. Those aspects were removed from the second draft.
“The community and the people that live within the watersheds concerned want to see a higher degree of pollution control so they can enjoy safe and clean water for today and future generations” says Rankin.
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For more information:
Water Coordinator, Ecology Action Centre